Former press baron Lord Conrad Black appeared in a Chicago, US court yesterday (Thursday) to face eight charges of fraud.

The Canadian-born UK peer pleaded not guilty to the charges, which centre on $84 million (€71m; £48m) he and three associates are alleged to have 'looted' from US publishing company Hollinger International.

Black, who was ousted from his role as chairman/ceo of the Chicago Sun-Times publisher in 2003, was released on $20m bail and was due to fly back to his home in Toronto last night.

His Canadian associate Peter Atkinson, a former evp at H-Intl, also pleaded not guilty. The company's former finance chief, John Boultbee, failed to turn up for his scheduled appearance on Wednesday, while erstwhile company lawyer Mark Kipnis pleaded innocent earlier this week.

David Radler, once his Lordship's second-in-command and close confidant, has agreed to co-operate with prosecutors under a plea bargain arrangement. He is expected to be a chief witness against Black.

Lawyer Edward Greenspan told the army of reporters at the court that his client "wants to have a trial" and is looking forward to being acquitted.

If, however, he is found guilty, Black faces up to 40 years in jail.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff